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mythological japan 

a" * 

OR I | 

The Symbolisms of Mythology 
in Relation to Japanese Art 

With Illustrations, Drawn in Japan, by Native Artists 

• H 


Alexander F. Otto 


Theodore S. Holbrook 


Drexel Biddle 












mythological japan 


The Symbolisms of Mythology 
in Relation to Japanese Art 

With Illustrations, Drawn in Japan, by Native Artists 


Alexander F. Otto 


Theodore S. Holbrook 


Drexel Biddle 













Having sought throughout the East, and especially Japan, 
for types of Oriental religious art, I always enjoy seeing in 
my mind's eye those mythological monuments which so 
often charmed me when it was my privilege to dwell 
among them. The authors having now shown me 
advanced sheets of their deeply interesting work, 
•' Mythological Japan," I am convinced that those 
who have not the leisure or convenience to visit the 
charming country of the Mikados, are to be con- 
gratulated that in this exquisite work they may see 
that fairyland as in a mirror. The faithful and 
artistic manner in which many of the pictures 
are rendered is an important feature in this 
beautiful book. . 


Professor of Glyptology, 

University of Pennsylvania. 

Bronze Lotus Leaf. 

Supported by two dragons. 
The lotus symbolizes purity, 
the dragon, power. 
From private collection. 


The instinctive desire to know the innermost meaning of things 
has always been an important quality in the mind of man, a 
quality particularly worthy in connection with the interesting lore 
of the East, where myths have ever held a sacred place. 

From the first, the decoration of the ornamental wares of Dai 
Nippon have represented all the symbols sacred to Orientals, the 
purer porcelains often bearing the seal names of royalty. De- 
lightfully poetic representations of the thoughts and beliefs, 
events both mythical and real, Nature's foliage and flora, and a 
great deal more that absorbs the Japanese mind, become willing 
captives in the hands of the clever artisans of Japan. The 
underlying motive in this inspired labor — to do homage to their 
beloved mythology — is apparent in all their works. 

While collectors the world over revel in the magnificent color- 
ings and forms of Japan's art objects, it is the mysterious and the 
mythical in their composition that most charms and captivates. 

It is, therefore, with the interpretation of mythology's symbol- 
isms employed in the beautifying of the ceramics, bronzes, carved 
and lacquered woods of Japan that the present volume has to do. 

If, by its aid, the ornamental wares with which our eyes have 
already become familiar, and which have already been enjoyed 
and valued for their beauty of form and coloring — if these begin 
to have a renewed and deeper significance, this glance at Mytho- 
logical Japan will surely not have been in vain. 

The authors' personal investigations have been ably supple- 
mented by much interesting data furnished by the various works 
on Japanese arts and beliefs; acknowledgment is also due 
Mrs. Grant B. Schley, Baronne d' Alexandry d' Orengiani, Messrs. 
A. A. Vantine & Co., Professor Maxwell Sommerville, Mr. James 
I. Raymond, Mr. Rufus E. Moore, and others, through whose 
eourtesy many interesting specimens have been loaned for repro- 
duction in the following pages. The Authors. 


The Index. 



Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami (Sun 
Goddess), 32-33 

Bamboo and Crane (Take-ni- 

Tsuru), 39 

Bamboo and Tiger (Take-ni- 

Tora), 42 

Benzaiten, or Benten (Goddess 

of Grace and Beauty), . . 58 

Bishamon (God of Glory) , . 60 

Carnation (Sekichiku), ... 20 

Carp (Koi) 27 

Cherry Tree (Sakura), ... 17 

Chrysanthemum (Kiku), . . 51 

Daikoku (God of Wealth), . . 57 

Daruma (a Buddhist Priest) . 50 

Dog Foo (Kara-Shishi), . . 47 

Dragon (Tatsu), .... 40-41 

Ebisu (God of Plenty), ... 56 

Foreword, 7 

Fudo (God of Punishment), . 26 

Fukurokujiu (God of Good 

Fortune and Wisdom), . . 59 

Fusiyama, 13-14 

Futen (God of Winds), ... 48 

Hara Kiri (Seppuku), ... 34 

Hotei (Children's Patron 

Saint), 62 

Jurojin (God of Longevity), . 61 

Kirin (Kilin), 44 

Kiyohime (Personification of 

Disappointed Love), ... 37 

Kwannon (Goddess of Mercy), 49 

Lotus (Hasu), 31 

Makudsu Kozan (A Foremost 

Potter), 15 

Mandarin Ducks (Oshidori), . 18 

Maple Tree and Stag (Momiji- 

ni-Shika), 21 

Moon and Cuckoo (Tsuki-ni 


Murasaki Shikibu (A Distin 
guished Authoress), . 

Orange (Tachibana), . . . 

Peach Tree and Oxen (Momo) 

Phoenix (Feng-hwang), . , 

Pine Tree and Crane (Matsu 

Plum Tree and Nightingah 
(Oumai-ni-UguiSu), . 

Raiden (God of Thunder), 

Ship of Good Fortune (Takara 

Suzume (Goddess of Mirth), 

Torii (Shinto Gateway), . 

Urashima (The Japanese Rip 
Van Winkle), .... 

Willow Tree and Swallow 

(Yanagi-ni-Tsubakuro), . 
Wistaria (Fuji), .... 










Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami, The 
Sun Goddess (Specimen), . 

Bamboo and Crane (Take-ni 

Bamboo and Tiger (Take-ni 

Benzaiten, or Benten (Goddess 
of Grace and Beauty), 

Bishamon (God of Glory), 

Bronze Lotus Leaf and Dragons 
(Specimen), . . . 

Bronze Vase (Specimen) 

Buddha (Specimen), . 

Carnation (Sekichiku), 

Carp (Koi), .... 







Cherry Tree (Sakura), ... 17 

Chrysanthemum (Kiku), . . 51 

Crystal Ball on Bronze Storks 

(Specimen), 49 

Daikoku (God of Wealth), . . 57 

Daruma (a Buddhist Priest), 

(Specimen), 50 

Dog Foo (Kara-Shishi), . . 47 

Dragon (Tatsu), 41 

Ebisu (God of Plenty), ... 56 
Fugen, an Incarnation of Bud- 
dha (Specimen) 63 

Fukurokujiu (God of Good 

Fortune and Wisdom), . . 59 

Fudo (God of Punishment) . 26 

Fusiyama, 4 

Futen (God of Winds), ... 48 

Hotei (Children's Patron Saint), 62 

Hotei (Specimen), .... 18 

Ivory Tusks (Specimen), . . 24 

Jurojin (God of Longevity), . 61 

Kirin (Kilin), 44 

Kiyohime (Personification of 

Disappointed Love), ... 36 

Kozan Vase (Specimen), . . 15 

Kwannon, the Maternal (Speci- 
men), 63 

Kwannon, the Goddess of 

Mercy (Specimen) 49 

Lotus (Hasu), 31 

Lotus, Stork and Tortoise 

(Specimen) 5 

Mandarin Ducks (Oshidori), . 18 

Maple Tree and Stag (Momiji- 

ni-Shika) 21 

Monju, an Incarnation of Bud- 
dha (Specimen), .... 12 

Moon and Cuckoo (Tsuki-ni- 

Hototogis) 16 

Murasaki Shikibu (a Distin- 
guished Authoress), . . . 35 

Orange (Tachibana) 46 

Peach Tree and Oxen (Momo), 52 

Phoenix (Feng-hwang), ... 25 

Pine Tree and Crane (Matsu- 

ni-Tsuru) 23 

Plum Tree and Nightingale 

(Oumaini-Uguisu), ... 45 

Raiden (God of Thunder), . 30 

Shepherd's Wand (Specimen), 33 

Ship of Good Fortune (Takara 

Bune) 55 

Suzume (Goddess of Mirth), . 43 

Temple Guardians (Speci- 
mens) 38 

Torii (Shinto Gateway), . . 53 

Urashima (the Japanese Rip 

Van Winkle), 29 

Willow Tree and Swallow 

(Yanagi-ni-Tsubakuro), . . 22 

Wistaria (Fuji), 19 








Kakuremino, 61 

Kanebukuro, 24 

Kara-Shishi 53 

Kiku-no-mon 38 

Kotoji 38 

Longevity 3 

Manji, 50 

Mitsu-aoi, 16 

Mitsu-domoe 22 

Sangoju 27 

Sangoju 60 

Tsuchi, 59 

Tsuki-ni-Usagi 56 

Uchiwa, 30 

Yang and Yin 26 

Zeni 24 

Monju, an Incarnation 
of Buddha. 

Seated on grotesque Hon. 
Emblematic of ecstatic wisdom. 

From a specimen in carved wood, 
lacquered in gold, two hundred 
and fifty years old. 
From the Buddhist Temple of 
Prof. Maxwell Sommerville, 
University of Pennsylvania. 



Fusiyama, that stupendous triumph of Nature, towering with a majestic 
glory over the Land of the Dragon Fly as well as o'er the history of the people 
with whom it dwells — that mysterious, impressive, snow-peaked " Queen of 
Mountains," to dream of which is an omen of good fortune — symbolizes to the 
Japanese, success in life and triumph over obstacles, whatever they may be. 
Artists and poets have drawn on noble Fuji for inspiration more than on any 
other object in the Island Empire, with the single exception of Buddha ; myth- 
ology honors it with the recognition due its sublimity and magnificence ; the 
traveler never wearies in describing its kaleidoscopic wonders. Can one ques- 
tion then, the sentimentality of the Japanese in making their Fuji the predom- 
inant note in literature, song and verse ? 

Mrs. Hugh Fraser's "Letters from Japan" gives Fuji one of the most ex- 
quisite settings ever bestowed on a gem of Nature — a setting from which we 
have gleaned, at times, in treating the present theme. The author speaks of 
this peerless mount as : 

" A marble pyramid against a sapphire sky. 

" Mists were gathered everywhere about its feet, as though the mountain 
goddess had but just dropped her robe that the sun might look upon her beauty ; 
then invisible hands seemed to be raising the airy garment higher and higher, 
'til the veil swept over the proud white crest and the vision was gone." 

It seems that of the thousands on thousands of pilgrims ascending Fusi- 
yama, only a small number have been women, and they only of late years. 
Fuji San, the Goddess of the Mountain, was a destroyer of women, owing to her 
deep hatred of the sex, thus keeping female pilgrims away. She is supposed to 
have quarreled with all the other gods, and to now dwell in solitude on Fuji, 
her mountain throne. 

As "the mists surround its snowy crest, so do a thousand and one quaint 
legends hover over Fuji." one telling us in a fascinating way of Biwa, the Lake 
of the Lute, the discovery of which was simultaneous with the creation of 

From his Bridge of Heaven, the God Izanami created the " Islands of the 
Dragon Fly," enriching them with verdure and foliage, while its water courses 
came from the tears shed by Izanagi, the consort of Izanami, who sorrowed 
long and deep at a rebuff from her lord. The land was a glorious one, and the 
people who came from the gods to dwell therein 
were indeed a happy people. But their halcyon 
days were destined to end : one night all 
Nature rose suddenly in revolt, and an awful 
quaking of the earth brought terror to the fair 
land. When morning came, blest with the sun 
of the Goddess Amaterasu, lo ! there lay a lute- 


FUSIYAMA.— Continued. 

shaped lake in the midst of Omi, a gift of liquid beauty, all the more 
wondrous for its sudden advent and sparkling purity. Because of 
the resemblance of its outline to the musical instrument of the 
Japanese, it was called " Biwa, the Lake of the Lute," and ere long, 
it became a place musical with the notes of many thousand festal 

If the people of Omi suffered terrors during that awful night, they 
were not alone, for a place known as Hakone, many miles distant, 
shared Omi's fright and an equal surprise when daylight came. 
While Omi received its Biwa, Hakone awoke to find its Fuji, garbed 
in all its grandeur, a monument to the goodness of the gods, a symbol 
of enduring strength and power. The mountain received its name 
Fusiyama, and, as the years passed by, the people became accustomed 
to their new neighbor ; cosy hamlets and bustling villages soon nestled 
round it, the inhabitants dwelling in the "same fancied security as 
did the Pompeiians at the foot of Vesuvius, before Nature, in one of 
her angry moods, breathed fiery visitation over the city and its 

It was during the Hoyei reign, 1704-1710 A. D, that the seem- 
ingly peaceful Fuji began to give evidence of internal unrest, followed 
by an awful visitation that destroyed scores on scores of villages and 
thousands of their people. 

But, notwithstanding the many painful memories of Fusiyama's 
disquiet and destructiveness, all seem to have been blotted out by the 
more potent power of its present glory, for in all Japanese literature 
nothing but terms of endearment and adoration are to be found, such 
as the "Beautiful Mountain," "Great Fusiyama," or "Queen of 




A Foremost Potter of Japan. 


A Kozan Vase 

In porcelain, showing design 

of bamboo in cobalt blue 

on ground of white, the bamboo 

symbolizing rectitude and long life. 

A modern piece from 
private collection. 

Foremost among the more talented potters 
of Japan, and esteemed above all others for 
his wondrous creations that prove so in- 
structive from a mythological standpoint, is 
one Kozan Miyagawa. 

This " potter of a thousand themes," as one 
appreciative writer terms him, is a native of 
Makudsu-ga-hara, which probably accounts 
for the commercial name he assumed at the 
outset of his career. He first came into 
prominence in the early sixties, when he 
founded kilns at Oto, near Yokohama. 

Makudsu's attention was primarily devoted 
to the imitation of Satsuma faience for ex- 
port, and so faithfully did he accomplish his 
self-imposed mission, that even connoisseurs 
found it a task to distinguish between the 
genuine crackle faience and decoration and 
the Makudsu productions. 

In common with other famous potters of 
the day, he did not sign his pieces, which 
so increased the difficulty of distinguishing 
between his handiwork and that which he 
copied, that many of the world's choicest 
collections contained his specimens — some- 
times tea jars, sometimes tea bowls and koros 
— duly classified as "Old Satsuma." 

But within the past twenty years, collectors 
have become expert enough to discern the 
slightest variations, readily recognizing a 
Kozan product on examination, though this 
ability is confined to the expert, amateurs still 
experiencing trouble in detecting points of 
differentiation so beautiful and characteristic 
of old Satsuma is this potter's handiwork. 

But Kozan's creations have long been prized 
for their own sake ; later on in his career, 
he won great distinction by reason of his 
wondrous and original "shadow treatments " 
of Japan's flora, storks and dragons, while 
his monochrome, flambe, crackle and other 
glazes instantly placed him on an enviable 
footing with the workers in porcelain and 
faience of the world — conspicuous evidence of 
royal appreciation being his official appoint- 
ment as " Potter to the Emperor." 

. _ J 



The crest of the renowned 
Tokugawa family, 
representing three leaves 
of the kamo-aoi, or asarum. 


[The Moon and the Cuckoo.] 

Some of Japan's finest decorative 
treatments show the Cuckoo flying 
across the face of the Moon. 

In both China and Japan it is 
supposed that the Cuckoo's note is 
like the human voice ; when its cry 
" fujioki ! " is heard by the way- 
farer, he instantly thinks of his 
home and dear ones, interpreting 
the bird's call, " return," as a note 
of warning that danger is in store 
for him should he pursue his 

Tsuki-ni-Hototogis has another 
interesting significance — that of 
temporal advancement and honor, 
owing to its identity with the 
legend of the archer Yorimasa, 
who was richly rewarded and hon- 
ored by his emperor for destroying 
a fearful creature — part monkey, 
tiger and dragon. 



[The Cherry Tree.] 

The Japanese have long regarded 
their beloved Cherry as the symbol 
of patriotism. Happy, indeed, a 
people with so delightful an incen- 
tive to loyalty as the unobtrusively 
fragrant, pink and rose-like blos- 
som of the Cherry tree ! Their 
artists delight to show it with the 
pheasant, whose brilliant plumage 
harmonizes so faultlessly with the 
Cherry bloom. In fact, all Japan 
unites in doing homage to this, 
its " King of Flowers," wherever 
the magnificent groves of Cherry 
trees are to be found ; for they are 
cultivated for their blossoming 
features alone. The most famous 
Cherry grove is Yoshina, with its 
thousand or more trees, then comes 
the garden of Ugeno, for three 
centuries the pleasure ground of 
the people of Tokio, where the 
exquisite blossom-glow of white 
and pink recalls one of Nature's 
loveliest sunsets. Tokio itself has 
won renown as the " City of Cherry 
Blossoms"; row after row of trees 
have been planted with mathemat- 
ical precision, and their laden 
boughs form an inspiring sight. 
When the breezes play wild havoc 
with the blossoms, and all the air 
is filled with fragrant petals, it 
seems as though glad Spring had 
forgotten its mission and that Win- 
ter had bestowed, with prodigal 
hand, a storm of snow-flakes on the 


Hotki, the God of Good Things. 

With fan, the emblem of command. 

A specimen in pottery and porcelain, 

from collection of 

Mr. Theodore S. Holbrook. 


[The Mandarin Ducks, or Beautiful Ducks.] 

The quaint legend of the mating of these inseparable turtle doves of 
Japan tells us that the drake could not find a suitable mate in his own 
flock, so wandered to a far-away land where he encountered one of a 
totally different species, from which he chose his affinity. Thus artists 
always show the male and female "beautiful ducks" together, the symbol 
of intermarriage and conjugal felicity. 

Most Oriental study however, is bestowed on the duck Oshi Kamo, 
noted for its beautiful plumage, the neck and breast being red, while 
the head is crowned with a magnificent topping. Aside from its indi- 
viduality in the matter of coloring, the position of the tail and wings gives 
it an unusually striking appearance. 

; '> '■■ « ;■' ';.••'• - ; 

.. v-y*. - 



[The Wistaria ] 

If one could be transported to 
the renowned Wistaria arbors of 
Kameido Temples, and there view 
the masses of delicate, purplish 
clusters of Wistaria, there would 
be slight cause for wonderment 
that this most impressive of Ori- 
ental flowers is emblematic of youth 
and Spring-time; forsurrounded on 
every side by so gorgeous a display 
of Nature's flora, thoughts of life's 
glad morning with its buoyant 
love and happiness come most to 

When artists fondly couple the 
cuckoo with the Wistaria, it means 
the approach of Summer, as full 
bloom is reached in May ; the pur- 
ple Wistaria is often accompanied 
by the pheasant, the purple blos- 
som being venerated more than the 
white, though both are conspicu- 
ous in Japanese decorative work. 

The flower is highly prized by 
all classes, and April and May in- 
variably find the people in the gar- 
dens indulging in gay festivities, 
drinking rice wine and writing 
prettily phrased verses in the Wis- 
taria's honor, or in praise of Spring. 
The verses are attached to the 
budding clusters, the character of 
the blossoms' development being 
accepted as portentous of good 
or evil in their future married life: 
a beautiful and romantic custom, 
thoroughly typical of the quaint 
and fascinating folk-lore of Japan. 



Kagi, the Keys of the Godown. 

The emblem of wealth, 

the godown or warehouse being 

the repository of valuable 



[The Carnation.] 

The Carnation is " The Little 
Darling" among the flora of 
Japan ; wherever you see its 
beauty portrayed, in verse or in 
art, you may know 'tis expressive 
of the most endearing sentiments. 

It has the distinction to num- 
ber among " The Seven Plants 
of Autumn," and, like the morn- 
ing glory, grows wild on grassy 
moors and in fertile valleys. The 
Garden-of a-hundred-flowers, or 
the Hiyak-kwa-yen, is one of the 
delightful memories of the Island 
Empire by reason of its seven 
autumnal plants, which by the 
way, are often associated with 
the wild boar, horse and deer 
in Oriental decorations. 



[The Maple Tree and the 

The Maple typifies sentiment, 
and the presentation of a branch 
of Autumn Maple implies that 
one's affections have changed like 
the leaves that Fall's relentless 
winds have blighted. The white 
stag and the Maple in association 
signify longevity, while the spotted 
stag symbolizes gentleness. 

To appreciate the Japanese mo- 
tive in bestowing a sentimental 
significance on the Maple, one 
should gain some notion of the 
gorgeousness of its foliage. 

Few pens can adequately portray 
it's beauty and amazing variety. 
As Nature's pigments gradually 
tinge the Maple's myriad leaves, 
all their perfect symmetry of form 
and faultless division of color im- 
press the beholder with unbounded 
admiration. Imagine, if you will, 
more than three hundred distinct 
species of a single tree, and you 
have a dim conception of the 
unnumbered beauties of Japan's 
flower-hued emblem of sentiment. 

Carvings, porcelains and lac- 
quers are enriched by its decora- 
tions, and artists often represent 
the falling leaf and running water, 
adhering with inimitable fidelity 
to every detail of coloring and 




The triple form of the source of life 
is but one of the symbolisms given 
this figure ; it is also the 
representation of fire, air and water, 
Nature's three great principles. 
It protects the household from 
the evils of fire, flood and theft, 
and will be found many times in 
Japanese decorative work, as well as 
on the mallet of Oaikoku. 


[The Willow Tree and the 

Another tree enjoyed and appre- 
ciated by the Japanese is the sup- 
ple and graceful Willow ; that 
they understand its qualities is 
evinced by the symbolism they 
give it — considerateness and pa- 
tience, attributes well earned by 
the Willow's gentle and yielding 
nature, obedient to every breath 
of wind. A swallow perched on 
its swaying branches typifies grace 
and docility. 


[The Pine Tree and the Crane.] 

We wonder not that the appre- 
ciative Oriental lingers so lovingly 
over the faithful and stately Pine ; 
he pictures it in verse and song and 
in works of art, knowing full well 
that it typifies stability of character 
and eternity. Living for centur- 
ies, ever green and ever stable, the 
Japanese have thought it worthy a 
saying all its own : 

" Fu ro sen nen no aki." 
(It never fades even throughout a thou- 
sand Autumns.) 

In a ballad, "The Spirit of the 
Pine Tree," the Pine is pictured as 
emblematic of conjugal content- 
ment and absolute happiness, 
which only comes where mutual 
sympathy reigns. 

It seems that long life and hap- 
piness is implied when this faithful 
tree is coupled with the bamboo, 
crane or tortoise ; particularly so, 
however, when in company with 
the crane, a bird highly prized and 
venerated by the Japanese because 
of its supposed longevity. 

As frequently as the crane 
appears in art, it has never been 
represented as inanimate, such a 
treatment being incongruous where 
longevity is implied. 

i *V 



An iron or copper coin 

of little value, 

emblematic of moderate wealth. 


A purse of money, 
symbolic of wealth. 

Ivory Tusks, Hand Carved. 

Dragon ornamentation. 

The specimen in foreground is 

conceded to be one of the largest 

pieces of carved ivory in 


Collection of A. A. Vantine & Co. 


[The Phoenix, or Ho-Wo Bird.] 

'Tis no minor office that this 
most royal bird occupies in the 
sphere of art and tradition, but one 
as refined as it is exalted. Known 
as the sacred Golden Pheasant and 
the Heavenly Phoenix, it is the 
generally accepted symbol of rec- 
titude, the male bird (Ho) and 
female (Wo) often appearing in 
art and in verse. 

It is supposed to abide in the 
higher regions, only appearing on 
earth at the birth of an emperor, 
or as a portend of the birth of 
some great philosopher or law- 

It has the head of a pheasant, 
the beak of a swallow, the features 
of a dragon and fish ; its plumage 
is magnificent with the gorgeous- 
ness of both peacock and pheasant, 
its five colors being symbols of the 
virtues — obedience, uprightness of 
mind, fidelity, justice, benevolence. 
While the numerous representa- 
tions of its head, body and wings 
are usually alike, its tail is seldom 
portrayed the same — sometimes it 
is feathered, at other times it re- 
sembles beautiful scroll work. 

The most perfect examples of 
the Phoenix in decorative art ap- 
pear on antique specimens that 
were made for royalty, in all prob- 
ability during the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, although for 
the past two hundred years it has 
frequently been employed in the 
ornamentation of notable porce- 
lains and ceramics. 

To quote a Chinese definition, 
" The Phoenix is of the essence of 
water ; it was born in the Ver- 
million cave ; it perches not but on 
the most beautiful of all trees ; it 
eats not but of the seed of the 
bamboo ; its body is adorned with 
the five colors ; its song contains 
the five notes ; as it walks it looks 
around ; as it flies, hosts of birds 
follow it." 



— -to-.— v 


Yang and Yin. 

The white, feminine — the black, 
masculine. Symbolizing the origin 
of life on the earth. 



[The God of Punishment.] 

The sword and the coil of rope 
which the gigantic God of Punish- 
ment is bearing, is used to smite 
and bind the guilty ; the brilliant 
halo of fire that surrounds his 
figure forms an appropriate setting, 
the flames suggesting the total 
destruction of the dross of man- 
kind's guilt. 



[The Carp.] 

The Carp is essentially the myth- 
ological figure for perseverance. 
If you should chance to arrive 
in any one of the enchanting cities 
of Japan on a certain Spring day, 
you would note everywhere over- 
head the bright colors of gigantic 
paper Carp, in commemoration of 
the Boys' Festival, O Sekku, or 
Tango. The Koi is the symbol of the 
male child, an omen of luck, and on 
the festal day parents raise on a 
bamboo pole a large paper Carp of 
red, gray or blue, with glistening 
scales of silver, one Carp for each 
son ; the younger the son, the 
larger the fish. As the wind dis- 
tends the paper nobori, it vainly 
tries to free itself, thus inciting the 
child to an ambitious life that will 
be full of conquests as noble as 
that of the fabled Carp at the 
" Dragon Gate." Legends tell us 
that all fish try to reach this 
sacred gate by leaping the foaming 
cataract that intervenes. The Carp, 
by reason of his superior strength, 
alone succeeds in scaling the water- 
fall, and is caught up by a white 
cloud from heaven, and transform- 
ed into a dragon, living thereafter 
in the regions of happiness above. 

Thus the fable of the Carp 
teaches the Japanese lad that by 
means of perseverance, pluck and 
activity he may surmount all the 
difficulties of life. 


The precious coral, 
emblematic of rarity. 





[The Japanese Rip Van Winkle.] 

You have but to hear the dreamy legend of Urashima Taro to know the reason 
for its inspiring power over the artists of Fair Japan. 

On one of the Dragon Isle's balmiest days, when soft spring breezes listlessly 
floated over land and sea, an humble fisher-lad, Urashima Taro by name, left his 
native shores of Suminoye in his primitive fisher's boat. Intent on luring with 
temptingly baited line some prize from the laughing waters, he drifted, ere he knew 
it, far out to sea. The day was nearly spent in fruitless toil when, lo ! he caught a 
tortoise. You must needs know, as did Urashima, that a tortoise is a sacred creature 
to the Dragon God of the Sea, destined to live a thousand years if its life be spared; 
thus it happened that the wise lad returned the tortoise to its watery home. 

The boat glided on, and on, as Urashima kept at his labor, but naught did he 
find. At last, lulled by the rippling water and fanned by the softest zephyrs, he fell 
a-dreaming. And then it was the fair Daughter of the Dragon appeared to him in the 
form of a beautiful maiden, radiant in the sunset glow with a glory that belongs only 
to those of the palace of the great sea-god. 

It seemed that the tortoise Urashima so thoughtfully released had been the 
dragon's daughter in disguise ; inspired by deepest gratitude, she had thus approached 
Urashima, to whom she said, "Come home with me, to my father's castle beyond the 
sea, and if you wish I'll be your flower-wife, for this day you spared my life." Then 
Urashima's heart was glad, for never had he seen so lovely a being, and he yielded to 
her winsomeness right willingly. 

So she called a great tortoise, which carried them to the Dragon's Palace in the 
Evergreen Land of perpetual sunshine and brightness, where they lived for centuries 
in joy and peace. 

But the memory of his boyhood's home came back to him o'er and o'er. Try as 
he would, he could not cast it from his mind, so one fair day he said to the dragon's 
daughter, " I would go to my father and mother, if but for a moment's time ; after 
one fond look on the dear ones, I will come again to thee and my Palace Beyond 
the Sea." 

The Princess was greatly saddened at the words of Urashima, but she granted 
his wish, first giving him a casket that would protect him from all harm, providing 
it was not opened. 

Then came the parting, and ere long he was on his way with a gladdened spirit 
and lightened heart, soon reaching his journey's end. Once in his native village, how- 
ever, he felt that some great change had come about ; his father's home was no more, 
the people whom he met were strange in features and in dress, even the fields once 
roved by his childish feet were gone — transformations great, indeed, since the day he 
had left it, but three short years before, as he believed ! 

None of the passers-by knew of his father or mother. In vain he asked for news 
of them, until at length he met an old, old man who said that when a boy he had 
heard his father tell how Urashima's parents had died of grief on learning that their 
loved and only son had been swallowed by the sea while fishing, just four hundred 
years before ! 

Then he knew he had been in a fairyland, living a charmed existence, with happi- 
ness and peace his daily portion. So he yearned long and deep to return to the 
Princess and his former life ; but he knew not how to reach the Palace of the Dragon 
King, for in the haste of departure he had failed to learn the means. He sought the 
coast and waited for the tortoise that had brought him, all in vain ; at last, in sheer 
despair, he thought of the box, the precious talisman the Princess had given him, and, 
forgetting her caution, loosed the silken cord that bound it, when out came a mons- 
trous cloud of the fleeciest white, the very elixir of life and everlasting youth. As it 
escaped, slowly mounting to the sky, Urashima was transformed into a withered, en- 
feebled man ; thus he fell lifeless to the earth— more than four hundred years of age. 





[The God of Thunder.] 

The fierce expression given 
Raiden, his two goat-like horns, 
and the semi-circular arrangement 
of the eight drums that surround 
him, present one of the most form- 
idable figures in mythology. 

Raiden is endowed with the 
power to produce thunder by strik- 
ing the drums with more or less 
vigor, hence the appellation the 
Japanese have given him, "The 
God of Thunder." 

Iraki, or Anchor. 

The symbol of 
security and safety. 



A fan-like object, used by 
ancient chieftains as an emblem 
of authority. Said to insure 
the safety of those who bear it. 





[The Lotus.] 

The flower that blooms to live 
but a single day, so sensitive to 
Nature's breath, so timid with its 
exquisite fragrance, so immaculate 
in its purity — such is the beauteous 
Lotus of Japan. Though rising 
from a lowly bed of gruesome 
mud, the Lotus is untainted by the 
place that, gave it birth, and is 
associated with the Spirit Land by 
the Buddhistic Faith. One of the 
Buddhist writings thus speaks of 
its sacred emblem : 

" If thou be born in a poor man's hovel, 
But hast Wisdom, 

Then art thou like the Lotus flower. 
Growing out of the mud." 

The people of Flowery Japan 
look upon the Lotus as emblematic 
of purity, symbolizing the heart 
that remains unspotted by worldly 
influences, rising far above the sor- 
didness of life. 

The glorified Buddha is almost 
always represented seated on an 
eight petalled Lotus, and those of 
his disciples who gain admission 
to heaven receive the gracious re- 
ward of perfect repose on a pedestal 
of Lotus Flowers. 

Although originally an importa- 
tion from India, the Lotus is 
thoroughly Japanese, the people 
having embodied it in their art 
and traditions with that fascinating 
touch of poetic imaginativeness 
peculiar to their race ; two of the 
names bestowed upon their Fusi- 
yama, ''The Peak of the White 
Lotus," and the " Lotus Peak," 
offer picturesque similes too ob- 
vious to need comment. 


t- ■■■■ a; 

Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. 
From a water color. 
Collection of Mr. Alexander F. Otto. 


[The Sun Goddess.] 

The Heaven-Shining Amaterasu, 
ancestress by tradition of the Im- 
perial Family of Japan, constantly 
concerned herself with the welfare 
of mankind, sending sunshine to 
light the day and make the rice 
fields flourish. Yet with all her 
goodness and power, she unceas- 
ingly encountered the animosity 
and jealous anger of her brother 
Susa no-o, the God of Storms ; the 
more the good will and the higher 
the esteem of the people, the greater 
his fierce envy proved. When the 
rice fields were in the zenith of 
their glory, he would descend to 
earth with one of his terrific 
storms, destroying in moments 
what Amaterasu, with her warming 
rays, had spent months to accomp- 

Finally, on one memorable oc- 
casion, the vindictive Susa-no-o 
dashed into the presence of 
Amaterasu and her maidens as 
they were weaving, so frighten- 
ing and angering her that she re- 
tired to a cave, leaving the earth 
in total darkness, for without 
Amaterasu, there could be no sun, 
and without the sun there could be 
no day. The people wept and 
prayed, beseeching her to return, 
but without avail ; as a last re- 
sort they appealed to the gods for 


Touched by the supplications, 
Vulcan, the Blacksmith God, re- 
sponded with his inventive genius, 
fashioning what tradition is pleased 
to call the first mirror, a huge disk 
of burnished metal, rivalling the 
sun itself in brightness. This was 
taken by the gods, in company 
with Suzume, the Goddess of Mirth, 
to the cavern of Amaterasu, where 
Suzume gave her famous Kagura 
dance, causing great hilarity among 
the gods. Lured by feminine curi- 
osity as to the cause of such com- 
motion at her sacred door, she 
peered out, and on seeing Suzume, 
asked why she thus danced and 

One of the gods made reply 
that they rejoiced in honor of a 
goddess more beautiful than she, 
and invited Amaterasu to come 
out and behold her. On advanc- 
ing toward the mouth of the cave, 
she was confronted by the won- 
drous mirror and beheld therein 
a face of great beauty. Not know- 
ing it to be a reflection of herself, 
and wondering who her rival was, 
Amaterasu left her cavern refuge, 
when suddenly the God of Strong 
Hands, the Hercules of Japan, 
rolled an immense boulder before 
the entrance. This of course pre- 
vented her return, and gave the 
people their glad Sun once more, 
which brought joy to the land and 
life to the fields. 

Bronze Vase. 

Illustrating one of many adaptations 
of the Dragon in Japanese art ; 
notable for excellent workmanship 
and tooling. 

Collection of A. A. Vantine & Co. 

Shepherd's Wand, 
Symbol of Authority. 

Carved in Chinese Jade, 
on pedestal of teakwood. 

From collection of 

Mr. James I. Raymond. 



[Seppuku, the Honorable Death.] 

One writer has very appropriately characterized this chivalrous and peculiarly 
Japanese observance as "A crimson thread running thro' the history of Japan." 

Until a generation ago, according to Mr. James L. Bowes' "Japanese Pottery," 
Hara Kiri was in general practice ; even now it is followed by those who adhere to 
the customs of old Japan, by whom it is regarded as an act as beautiful in execution 
as it is in theory. For more than six centuries the feudal classes resorted to this 
mode of self-despatch as an ideal way of avenging an insult, while others employed it 
when unwilling to survive some family disgrace, or as the surest way of winning 
posthumous fame. 

The paintings, and the decorations on the potteries and porcelains of Japan often 
picture famous Japanese generals and their followers in the act of committing Hara 
Kiri, artists undoubtedly receiving their inspiration from countless occurrences — 
recorded in Japanese history — where this " honorable and dignified " privilege was 
enjoyed. In one instance more than six thousand of the Hojo army committed Hara 
Kiri after defeat by the adherents of the Mikado during the wars of the fourteenth 
century, it being a common circumstance for the followers of a fallen leader to 
"despatch" themselves that they might die with their master. 

In another instance Masashige Kusunoki, Go-Daigo's faithful vassal, was finally 
defeated after a valorous career, and, feeling powerless to further aid his much loved 
master, he committed Hara Kiri, followed by one hundred and fifty of his retainers ; 
such patriotism and devotion to his emperor won for him the title of the " Mirror 
of Stainless Loyalty." 

Yet these are only fluttering leaves from volumes of annals where Hara Kiri has 
played its part. 

While somewhat suggestive of duelling, Seppuku differs from it in many essential 
ways — the Japanese, when insulted by one of equal rank, committed Hara Kiri, his 
aggressor subsequently doing likewise, rather than bear a stigma on his name. 

On receiving the insult, the injured person holds a conference with the members 
of his family, advising them of the affair Arrangements for the important ceremony 
are then made ; the unmarried women of the family weave the fibres of the lotus 
plant into a rope of sufficient length to surround the house, thus preventing evil 
spirits from entering and carrying away the soul of the departed. A suitable apart- 
ment is then secured, the master's sword and a spotlessly white cloth being placed 
on a mat-like platform. 

The ceremony, a beautiful one in many ways, is opened by a priest who bears in 
his hand a lotus flower, which he places on the sword. The master then ascends the 
platform, followed by his eldest son, who carries with due reverence the small sword 
known as wakazashi, with which the fatal act is performed. The priest then takes 
the lotus from the master's sword and tears it to pieces, scattering the petals over the 
kneeling man, upon whom he bestows a blessing. At this, the master carefully nar- 
rates with all the poetry of his nature, the story of the insult, and as the address 
draws to a close he moves aside the Kamishimo, or ceremonial garment, arranging its 
folds for the final act. Unflinchingly he grasps in his left hand the wakazashi, and 
with one deft movement tears open his abdomen from right to left, making a large 
incision ; at the same moment his next of kin takes the sword from the platform, and 
with one blow severs the master's head from the body. 

Pursuant to custom, it now becomes the duty of the deceased's closest relative to 
inform the aggressor of the completion of the ceremony, through the medium of a 
missive enclosed in lotus leaves, on receipt of which the one addressed likewise per- 
forms Hara Kiri which terminates the family feud. 




[Japan's Most Distinguished Authoress.] 

If you were viewing the ancient temple of Ishiyama, very likely you would be 
shown the writing box and ink-stone of Japan's famous poetess, Murasaki Shikibu, 
whose masterpiece "The Genji Monogatari," is regarded as the greatest classic of 
its age. She is said to have composed her remarkable work in a single night, nearly 
a thousand years ago ; her light was that of the full moon, her resting place a 
balcony in mid-air, her inspiration, the lovely Biwa, the Lake of the Lute. 

As if to repay her in some slight way for so rich an endowment to their literature, 
the Japanese have immortalized Murasaki Shikibu in picture, verse and song. 




[The Personification of 
Disappointed Love.] 

Europe may boast of her passion 
plays, but Japan glories in the 
national Drama of No, one of her 
dearest possessions. The char- 
acters impersonated — gods, god- 
desses, warriors, priests, demons, 
national heroes — are drawn from 
legend and history, while the cos- 
tumes are more or less magnifi- 
cent, often costing fabulous sums. 

The carvings, lacquers, porce- 
lains and ceramics of Japan are 
rich with decorative treatments 
suggestive of this drama, but 
probably none holds a deeper 
interest for the devotee of mythol- 
ogy than those of Kiyohime, the 
Personification of Disappointed 
Love, a monstrosity with distorted 
features and dishevelled hair, tusks 
projecting from her mouth, horns 
from her head, and feet terminat- 
ing in claws. 

Legend holds that this creature 
was once a beautiful maiden who 
served as a waitress at the inn 
Chojaya of Shirotaka, where she 
attracted the attentions of Anchin, 
a young Buddhist priest of the 
Temple Dojoji. Calling daily in 
quest of his tea, he became inter- 
ested in Kiyohime, and finally won 
her deepest affections, but as his 
vows prevented all thought of mar- 
riage, he took refuge in flight — 
loving the church more than the 
maid. Kiyohime, in the agony of 
her disappointment, fled to the 
mountains, where the violence of 
her passion robbed her of all beau- 
ty and transformed her into a han- 
niya, or female devil. Her love 
turned to hatred and an intense 
longing for vengeance led her to 
relentlessly pursue the luckless 
Anchin to the temple Dojoji of 
Kumano. At sight of her, and fear- 
ing the evil spirit that dominated 
her entire being, Anchin secreted 
himself beneath the great temple 
bell, but the dragon-like Kiyohime 
remained undaunted ; thrice wrap- 
ping herself around the bell, she 
struck it fiercely with a hammer 
which she bore, instantly changing 
it to molten metal, and reducing 
both the hapless lover and herself 
to a heap of cinders. 


Different Representations 
of the Character Jiu — 


Guardians of The Temple. 

The figure at the left stands on an Oni, or demon. 

Both figures have a menacing attitude, to remind those 

who approach that the premises are sacred. 

From specimens in carved lacquered wood. 

From the Buddhist Temple of Prof. Maxwell Sommerville, 

University of Pennsylvania. 


Emblematic of harmony. 

They form the bridges of the Koto, 

or Japanese harp, upon which 

the instrument's strings are stretched. 


The Imperial crest 

of the chrysanthemum. 



[The Bamboo and Crane.] 

Could one conceive such an 
anomaly as the Land of the Drag- 
on Fly without its Bamboo ? The 
national tree of these fair isles, with 
hundreds of years as the length of 
its days, the very warp and weft 
of the tradition of the people, 
precious to them from a poetic as 
well as from a utilitarian stand- 
point, cannot be sundered even 
in thought, from the land with 
which it has so long been identi- 

Japan's decorators and illustrat- 
ors have few dearer themes. We 
find them portraying the Bamboo 
innumerable times in company 
with the Crane, symbolizing long 
life, rectitude, fidelity and con- 

With the flying sparrows among 
its branches, friendship is implied. 

There is a phrase often used in 
association with the Bamboo: 

" Setsu ri ko setsu o miru " 
(When the snow falls, its virtue stands 

implying that men of exalted char- 
acter rise above the vices of the 
age in which they exist — a beauti- 
ful symbol, worthy this faithful 
tree of rectitude and constancy. 

But art is not alone in its em- 
ployment of the ubiquitous Bam- 
boo, which has, in very truth, a 
multitude of offices to perform — 
flag staffs, scaffolding, water pipes, 
vessels and boxes of every kind, 
lattices and even deadly spears are 
made from it, while the earliest 
shoots are used as an article of 

Long life to the theme of the 
Bamboo Tree ! 



[The Dragon.] 

A fitting representation of power, symbolical of sovereignty, mysterious and om- 
nipotent in its influence on the lives of men, is Tatsu, the foremost creature of Japanese 
Mythology. Its name Riyo or Riu is from the Chinese, meaning all powerful — and 
such it surely is ; as one of the divinely constituted creatures, it has the faculty of 
making itself visible or invisible ; of its own volition, it reduces itself to the size of 
a silkworm or enlarges to such proportions that all heaven and earth is filled with its 

Nor are the artistic and poetic conceptions of the Japanese narrowed down to a 
single dragon — there are many of them. The Celestial Dragon guards and supports 
the mansions of the gods ; the Spiritual Dragon causes the rain to fall and winds to 
blow for humanity's welfare ; the Earth Dragon defines the courses of rivers and 
streams ; the Dragon of Hidden Treasures watches over the hoards of wealth hidden 
from mankind. All these various types are known by distinctive colors, with which 
the Oriental associates influences favorable or inimical to men. The white dragon's 
breath is believed to become gold, and the spittle of the violet dragon turns to crys- 
tal balls ; but those best known seem to be the white, green, yellow, violet, red and 
black, and these appear innumerable times in the ornamentation of the porcelains, 
potteries, pictures, furniture and wood carvings of Japan and its temples. 

Tatsu is often represented holding a jewel in the right fore claw, suggestive of 
one of the many legends that enrich Japanese Mythology, and explaining the 
dragon's association with the crystal ball. 

This legend, well worth recounting, runs as follows : 

During the reign of the Empress Jingo, the most noteworthy of all the women of 
Japan, ambassadors from an Emperor of China were sent to the Empress with three 
of China's much-prized treasures — a bell of metal and one of wood, and a beautiful 
crystal ball as clear as a drop of heaven-sent dew. 

After a stormy voyage, they reached the Japanese coast, but alas, the crystal 
ball, their most precious gift, was not to be found! Their grief was dreadful 
indeed, being intensified by the mystery of the jewel's disappearance, as well as by 
the chagrin the situation was sure to cause. Much consultation, however, led to the 
conclusion that the jewel had been charmed from them by the Daughter of the Dragon, 
who was unable to restrain her ardent desire to possess it. The chief minister of 
the Empress, mourning the loss of the precious crystal more deeply than the others, 
and feeling the disgrace that had fallen on the ambassadors, resolved to recover it at 
any cost. 

In an effective disguise he strolled along the shore, and soon met one of the fisher- 
women of that locality. It was not long before he won her love and married her, 
shortly thereafter disclosing the burden of his heart, and begging her aid if she 
valued their future happiness. He promised that if she recovered the crystal, she 
would no longer be the poor and unknown ama, or fisherwoman, but a princess with 


a castle for a residence, nobility for 
her companions, and the gracious 
favor of the Empress for her 

The picture proved so winning a 
one that her support was gained at 
once, and preparations were begun 
for the important quest. Her life 
had been spent by the sea, and she 
could swim with the ease of a fish, 
and live under water as well as on 
land, so she agreed to dive to the 
Dragon Palace and seek the lost 

On the completion of all arrange- 
ments, she bade her husband a 
fond farewell, and grasping a sword, 
dived into the sea, soon reaching 
the Dragon's Palace where she 
found the wondrous ball. Starting 
to return, she saw that she had been 
discovered by the Dragon himself, 
who lost no time in calling to his 
aid all the monsters of the sea in 
a vain attempt to capture her. 
Despite a desperate resistance, she 
saw that it was but a question of 
moments when she would be over- 
come, and suddenly remembering 
that the Dragon and his fellows 
dared not touch a lifeless creature, 
she thrust the sword into her bosom, 
placed the crystal in the opening, 
and signalled to her husband with 
the cord provided for such use in 
case of danger. He quickly drew 
it in, when he beheld, to his con- 
sternation, the lifeless body of the 
faithful ama bearing the coveted 
jewel in her bosom. 

Thus the crystal ball was re- 
covered and borne to the Empress 
who heard the tale as the legend 
gives it to us, and in token of her 
appreciation of so noble a sacri- 
fice, honored the memory of the 
once humble ama with the name 
of Tamatorihime, the Princess of 
the Recovered Jewel. 



[The Bamboo and the Tiger.] 

The crouching tiger in the bam- 
boo thicket is by no means uncom- 
mon in the figurative art of Japan. 
One of India's ancient myths is the 
source of the inspiration, and the 
symbolic significance conveyed is 
safety from the fiercest dangers. 
When the tiger is hunted by the 
elephant, he seeks refuge in the 
bamboo jungle, knowing full well 
that the elephant cannot follow 

Naturally, it is a subject of great- 
est interest, and the specimens on 
which it appears are held in high 



[The Goddess of Mirth and 
the Spirit of Folly.] 

This good natured being with 
her long black hair, dimpled cheeks, 
and thoroughly sensuous express- 
ion, is not uncommon in the art 
of Japan, appearing often on its 
potteries and porcelains, its carved 
netsuke, (girdle buttons) and in 
illustrated Japanese literature. She 
is the fabled goddess whose danc- 
ing before the "cave door of 
heaven " helped arouse the curi- 
osity and secure the return of 
the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, who 
had deprived the world of her 
welcome presence. 

Suzume's fabled dance has been 
retained to this day as a Shinto 
Temple ceremonial, for which 
Nikko and Nara are famous. 


Ju-I (Shepherd's Wand). 

Symbol of the power of faith. 


From an antique bronze. 
Private collection. 


{From Kilin ; Ki the male, Lin the 

If the fabled Pheasant is a prom- 
inent mythological subject, the 
Kirin is no less so, being next in 
importance to Tatsu, the Dragon, 
having the head and breast of a 
dragon, a horn upon its forehead, 
the body of a deer, flame-like 
wings and tail, and the legs of a 
horse It is a creature that mythol- 
ogy clothes with one of the most 
beautiful of Oriental figures — that 
of absolute goodness. It is further 
regarded as the highest type of 
animal creation, said to live a 
thousand years, symbolic alike of 
benevolence and of mercy, because 
of its supposed tenderness and care 
in not treading on the most abject 
worm, or injuring the tiniest plant. 

Its appearance on earth is re- 
garded as an omen of the birth of 
those who will become great and 
good in the government of the 
people, and, like the Ho- Wo bird, 
it is conspicuous in Japanese art 
and literature. 

Orientals have even gone so far 
as to make this fabled creature 
the incarnation of the five elements 
— earth, air, water, fire and ether — 
of which all things are made : a 
generous endowment, surely ! 




[The Plum Tree and the 

When we remember that the ex- 
ceptionally early advent of the 
plum blossom, as flaky as snow 
drops and quite as pure, means the 
first touch of Spring to the nature- 
loving Japanese, we wonder not 
that the Plum Tree and Nightin- 
gale form a favorite theme for ar- 
tist and poet as the harbinger of 
Spring and anticipated happiness. 
True, the early plum blooms linger 
but a brief while, falling long be- 
fore the tree begins to show a leaf ; 
but that one glimpse serves as a 
foretaste of balmier days and the 
many blessings of Japan's loved 
goddess, Amaterasu. 

We are told that the Plum Tree 
was borrowed by the Japanese 
from China, where it was originally 
valued for its fruit alone, but the 
purity and beauty of its flower 
ultimately won for it an honored 
place in tradition and art. Un- 
numbered allusions are made to 
the Plum Tree by the saints and 
moralists in Japanese legends, and 
it has come to possess an almost 
sacred significance. 

The blossom itself, often called 
"the elder brother of the hundred 
flowers," being the year's earliest 
bloom, has a peculiarly fresh and 
delicate fragrance which becomes 
almost overpoweringly heavy if 
confined to an apartment. The 
snow-blossom is not the only one 
that gladdens the Japanese heart ; 
there are lovely double white ones, 
and those of pink and crimson hue, 
all beautiful, all finding a place in 
the art and verse of fair Nippon. 

A combination of the plum blos- 
som, evergreen pine and bamboo, 
known as Sho-chiku-bai, signifies 
enduring happiness and long life, 
an emblem frequently in evidence 
at wedding and anniversary fetes. 

" O'er wooded landscape, shrouding all 
In one soft cloud of misty white. 
T'were vain almost to hope to trace 
The plum trees in their lovely bloom." 




[The Orange. J 

Few things more effectually re- 
call the past, with its joys or sor- 
rowings, than the distinctive odor 
of some one of Nature's flora. 

To the poetic Japanese, the 
Orange in company with the 
Cuckoo, symbolizes that which 
has gone before, the fragrance of 
Orange blossoms mingled with the 
Cuckoo's notes being subtle re- 
minders of former days. 



[The Dog Foo, or Chinese Lion.] 

————————————— — | 

Although one of the most ancient of mythological creatures, the sig- 
nificance of the Kara-Shishi seems to be unknown to the Japanese of to- 
day. Many authorities regard the Dog Foo as the Japanese conception of 
the Chinese lion, its head, mane and claws suggesting the king of beasts. 

At all events, it is generally known as the Kara-Shishi, or Shishi Dog 
in the literature and art of Japan, though some writers allude to it as the 

Watch-dog of the Empire. 



[The God of the Winds.] 

Not only the awful storms of 
winter, but the gentle zephyrs of 
Spring are said to come from 
Futen's capacious bag, according 
to his caprice. His stern and grim 
visage makes him a formidable 
being — and such he is, whether 
portrayed in daintiest embroidery 
or on massive bronze. 



[The Goddess of Mercy.] 

The deity known as Kwannon, 
sometimes represented as a male, 
though more often as a female, is 
the personification, both in China 
and Japan, of Mother Nature, or 
the Beginning, being variously 
known as the Downlooking Sover- 
eign, the Eleven Faced Kwannon, 
and the Thousand Handed God- 
dess — in the latter conception her 
many hands are extended in the 
act of granting bounties to all 
supplicants, while her sweet and 
gentle features betray great affec- 
tion for mankind. Of course she 
is beloved by all ; thousands of 
her shrines may be found in Japan 
alone, the most famous being that 
of Asakusa Temple, which is daily 
besieged by throngs of her adher- 
ents. The shrine at Kiomidzu 
Temple figures next in prominence, 
owing, no doubt, to its historic and 
legendary associations. Collections 
the world over are enriched with 
interesting specimens of this deity; 
the Kwannon and Child, repro- 
duced on page 63 of the present 
volume, being an exceptionally rare 


A Japanese carving in ivory. 

From collection of 

Baronne d'Alexandry d'Orengiani. 

Crystal Ball on Bronze Storks. 
, The crystal ball, which is absolutely 
flawless, is the emblem of purity. 
When accompanied by the storks, 
it has the two-fold significance 
of long life and purity. 

From the collection of 
Mr. James I. Raymond. 



From a famous pottery. 
Collection of Mrs. Grant B. Schley. 


[A Buddhist Priest.] 

Daruma, the Buddhist priest 
said to have sailed from Korea on 
a rush leaf, is almost invariably 
represented in a sitting posture, 
wrapped in a large red cloak. 
Owing to his extreme piousness, 
Daruma is supposed to have been 
seated in prayer and devout medi- 
tation for nine successive years, 
during which time his limbs with- 
ered away ; on completing his long 
period of devotion he found that 
he could no longer stand, which 
accounts for the characteristic pose 
given him in decorative work. The 
representations of Daruma are not 
by any means confined to works of 
art, but often appear in the form 
of toys and novelties, much to the 
delight of the youngsters of Japan. 


Manji (Svastika). 

The Buddhist cross of India. 
Symbolizing life, the four elements, 
and eternity. Used as a charm it 
assures good luck and exemption 
from evil. Traced to the 13th Cen- 
tury, B. C, and in evidence in 
the art of Greece, ancient Europe, 
English heraldry, Chinese and Indian 
ornamentation and symbolism. 



From a famous pottery. 
Collection of Mrs. Grant B. Schley. 


irom evil. . _ 

tury, B. C, and in evidence in 
the art of Greece, ancient Europe, 
English heraldry, Chinese and Indian 
ornamentation and symbolism. 



[The Chrysanthemum.] 

If it be an honor to merit the 
favor of royalty, then the noble 
Chrysanthemum is indeed satiated 
with honor — for is it not the em- 
peror's flower, preferred above all 
others? Symbolizing a gentle dis- 
position, happiness, virtue and re- 
pose, and associated with longevity 
because of the extraordinary life 
of its bloom, it is naturally held in 
high esteem by all classes, particu- 
larly as the sixteen petalled variety 
forms the imperial crest of Japan. 

We of the West can hardly con- 
ceive of what it means to assidu- 
ously cultivate over eight hundred 
varieties of a single flower, show- 
ing some two hundred and sixty- 
nine shades of color — yet that is 
what Japanese floriculture has ac- 
complished with the regal Chrys- 

Dango-zaka, quite near Tokio, 
is known farand wide for its Chrys- 
anthemum gardens, containing 
countless groups of mythological 
figures, realistic representations of 
woven tapestries, and historic 
scenes, made entirely from living 
Chrysanthemums. Beautiful as are 
the Chrysanthemums of Dango- 
zaka, those of Aoyama Palace, at 
one time the emperor's residencej 
excel them in variety and pre- 
tentiousness. The emperor's birth- 
day is celebrated among Aoyama's 
regal blooms, a fitting place for 
royalty, where every shade of rose, 
crimson, yellow, pale lilac and 
purple, vie with one another in 
honoring their ruler. This joyous 
gala time is known as the Festival 
of Kiku, and one of its customs is 
that of placing Chrysanthemum 
petals in the cups during the wine 
drinking, insuring long life and 

According to one of the mythical 
tales of the Japanese Chrysanthe- 
mum, there is a hill far away in 
Kai, known as the Chrysanthemum 
Mount, which overhangs # river of 
crystal clarity. Those who drink 
from the waters of this stream after 
the Chrysanthemum petals have 
fallen in it, receive the boon of 
long life ; hence the theme of many 
an artistic scheme showing Chrys- 
anthemums floating in running 



[The Peach Tree and Oxen.] 

The Peach originally, came from 
China, and we are told that it sym- 
bolizes both longevity and mar- 
riage. A certain philosopher 
known as Seiobo, is credited with 
having been blest with long life on 
eating the fruit ; while Japanese 
verse, in its own delightful way, 
frequently alludes to the Peach 
as a symbol of marriage. 

A familiar conception of the 
artist is that of Oxen in an orchard 
of Peach trees, an idea having for 
its origin a familiar occurrence in 
Chinese history, where the Emperor 
Bu, with a desire to inculcate a love 
of peace instead of war, disbanded 
his armies at the advice of his 
minister Taikobo, allowing his 
horses to wander at will over the 
mountains, while his oxen were 
sent into the Peach orchard of 



[Shinto Gateway.] 

The whispering voices of tradi- 
tion — how we treasure them — tell 
us that the Torii, the stately, well 
poised gateway of Shinto faith, 
has an office that lifts it far above 
the commonplace. The Sun at 
divers times and places, comes 
down to earth in the form of the 
great and wondrous Ho- Wo Bird, 
or Heavenly Phoenix, using for 
its perch one of the many Torii 
Gates, which the good people of 
Japan have built and placed 
throughout the land for that most 
exalted purpose. 

The traveller may still see the 
Torii at the entrance to the Shinto 
temple grounds, where it appears 
as the signification of the true 
gateway to a life of grace ; in art, 
it is used innumerable times in the 
decoration of Japan's fairest orna- 


The Chinese lion sporting 
with the sacred crystal 
ball ; frequently employed 
in Oriental art. 



I The Ship of Good Fortune.] 

This vessel, with its 
sacred cargo of the Seven 
Gods of Fortune, may be seen floating 
gracefully on the surface of many a beautiful 
vase, or woven in rich-hued threads on the quaint squares of 
satin known as " fukusa " in Japan. It is a precious emblem 
to the Oriental — to portray the Takara Bune means to sym- 
bolize wisdom, happiness, long life and good fortune, wealth 
very properly coming last, inasmuch as wisdom and happiness 
are there. 

It matters not how humble or pretentious the home may 
be, you will rarely find it without one or more of the Seven 
Household Gods, lodged in the tokonoma, where things of this 
nature are placed. The poorer classes have these gods in 
pottery and wood, while the more affluent show reproduc- 
tions in gold, lacquer, and fine bronzes inlaid with gold and 
set with precious stones. Notwithstanding the high esteem 
in which these gods of the household are held, they are not 
worshipped by the people, but are regarded with feelings of 
reverence and honor, much the same as we look upon our 
Santa Claus and Saint Valentine — the former, the patron 
saint of the little ones ; the latter, the adored of love-lorn 
youths and maidens. 

In Japan the children look to Hotei, their Kris Kringle, 
for playthings most desired ; the warrior calls on Bisha- 
mon, the God of Glory, for a victorious campaign ; Ben- 
zaiten is besought of women who would be faithful and 
fruitful ; the student turns to Jurojin and Fukurokujiu for 
wisdom and many years ; the famished and needy suppli- 
cate Daikoku for rice, and Ebisu for fish. 

The attributes of these seven beings, or Shichi Fuku- 
jin, are individually described on the 

following pages. 



[The God of Plenty, and 
Daily Food.] 

Although Ebisu was disgraced 
and banished to a desolate and 
uninhabited island, he is the most 
popular of all the household gods, 
besought by all who hunger and 
are in need. He is said to have 
lived under water for days at a 
time, and artists picture him bear- 
ing a fishing rod and a large 
basket filled with Japan's favorite 
sea food, the red skinned tai. 


The Rabbit is supposed to dwell 
in the moon, engaged in 
compounding the Elixir of Life. 



[The God of Wealth.] 

This stalwart being may be 
identified either by his bales of 
rice or his capacious treasure bag. 
Many suppose that the hammer in 
Daikoku's uplifted hand is filled 
with treasures for his supplicants, 
while others believe that wealth 
and happiness come only to those 
who wield it with care and dili- 

Daikoku is pictured here as shak- 
ing coins from his magic hammer, 
while the child at his feet is trying 
to catch them, illustrating the 
generosity of the god in his dis- 
tribution of wealth and bounty. 

With the Japanese, rice is almost 
always representative of wealth, 
and the rat that is often shown nib- 
bling at the rice bags of Daikoku 
is very appropriately introduced 
as wealth's destroyer. 



[The Goddess of Grace and 

Benzaiten or Benten, one of the 
Seven Deities of Fortune, and the 
accepted type of ideal womanhood, 
is perhaps more familiarly known 
as the Tutelary Genius of Enoshi- 

Artists portray this honored god- 
dess with a dragon or a serpent as 
her steed ; she is either playing a 
biwa, the lute-like musical instru- 
ment of Japan, or carrying a key 
in one hand and a priceless jewel 
in the other. 

Most of the shrines of Benten 
are to be found on islands, 
Enoshima (the Island of the Tor- 
toise) having the principal one. 
Legends hold that like snow-cap- 
ped Fuji, this beautiful island of 
shells, tea houses and shaded 
walks was given birth in a single 

However that may be, there is 
hardly an atom of its enchanted 
surface or mysterious depths that 
is not sacred to Japan's beloved 
Benten Sama, to whom Enoshima 
was consecrated long years ago. 

Benten's most important shrine 
on the island was installed in a 
deep cavern with an opening to the 
sea. During the stormy season, 
this awe-inspiring place is closed 
by Nature's seething waters, which 
hide the entrance ; even in calmer 
weather, when the tide is low. the 
pilgrim may enter Benten's cavern 
only after hazardous climbing 
along a precipitous ledge of rocks — 
but 'tis labor well spent, for won- 
drous indeed are the beauties of 
Nature which the Goddess of 
Grace so jealously guards in her 
cavernous home by the sea. 



The hammer of Daikoku, the 
God of Wealth. 


[The God of Good Fortune 
and Wisdom.] 

The name of this being, pro- 
nounced Fu-ku-ro ku-jiu, has an in- 
teresting significance — fuku, mean- 
ing luck and happiness, roku, 
wealth and prosperity, and jiu, 
longevity. Art presents Fukuro- 
kujiu as a man of many years, 
supported by a staff and accom- 
panied by a crane ; his fan is the 
symbol of power, while his maki- 
mona, the most ancient form of 
book, is the accepted type of wis- 
dom ; his abnormally long head is 
supposed to be the result of pa- 
tient, untiring study. A Japanese 
riddle refers to this peculiarity in 
asking " Which is the longer — the 
head of Fukurokujiu, or a Spring 
day?" The wise reply is, " No one 
can tell, both are so long !" 


Sangoju, the Precious Coral. 
The emblem of rarity. 


[The God of Glory.] 

The stern Bishamon, with his un- 
mistakable military bearing, is one 
of the Seven Gods of Fortune. 

The impersonation of war, he is 
usually portrayed as a warrior 
clad in armor, with a spear in his 
right hand and a pagoda in his 
left — the pagoda symbolizing 

Benten is beloved of women, 
Hotei of the children, and Bishamon 
is none the less dear to the soldier 
of Japan — a never failing source of 
inspiration and hope. 



[The God of Longevity.] 

The serene and venerable Juro- 
jin, with his snow-white beard, 
mitred cap and sturdy staff, seem- 
ingly holds a much favored place 
among the artists of Japan, for he 
appears many times on their ob- 
jects of art as the signification of 
long life He is occasionally shown 
in company with the stag, and 
sometimes with the tortoise or the 
crane, all three the emblems of 


A rain-coat, symbolizing comfort 
and protection. The wearer of this 
coat is supposed to be made 
invisible to surrounding dangers, 
hence its signification 
of protection. 




One of the Keys of the Godown, 
symbolizing wealth. 


[The Children's Patron Saint.] 

Hotei personifies the contented 
spirit in the midst of adverse cir- 
cumstances. Jovial in the extreme, 
of goodly, rotund proportions, he 
is pictured as bearing with char- 
acteristic good grace, a bag of toys 
for children to whom he is a typi- 
cal Kris Kringle. Another favorite 
study represents him with his bag 
over his shoulder, and children 
clamoring round and about him. 

Credited with leading a roving, 
Bohemian life, " a dreamy, yawn- 
ing, obese vagabond of the Diogenes 
pattern, minus his shorn philos- 
ophy," Hotei even vies with Buddha 
in his popularity with the artists 
of fair Japan. During the past five 
years the present writers have ob- 
served, by actual count, over seven 
thousand different conceptions of 
Hotei. Some are carved on netsuke 
of wood and ivory, others in the dec- 
orations of porcelains and bronzes-, 
in fact, every form of ornamenta- 
tion known to the Japanese shows 
representations of this favorite 
god of the youth of Nippon. 



The Eighth Form, holding a child- 
rarely met with in Japan. 

From a wood carving in the 
collection of Mr. Rufus E. Moore. 

Fugkn, an Incarnation 
of Buddha. 

Seated on the sacred white elephant. 
Emblematic of Meditation. 

From the Buddhist Temple of 
Prof. Maxwell Sommerville, 
University of Pennsylvania.